10 Awesome Southern New England Day Trips to take with the Kids

Spring is finally here (at least officially) and many schools in New England will be on spring break in April. After record amounts of snow this winter, everyone is going to want to get out of the house and explore. Even if you don’t have plans to get away for spring break, it isn’t too late to plan a fun staycation. To help with your planning, I asked some of my local blogger friends for their favorite day trips around Southern New England. Here are their (and my) recommendations.

10 Southern New England Day Trips

1. Mystic, CT — Jodi from Family Travel Magazine recommends Mystic, CT.  In Mystic you can learn about history at Mystic Seaport, check out the beluga whales at the Mystic Aquarium, shop at Olde Mystick Village, and learn about local wildlife at the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.

When you get hungry, stop by the famous Mystic Pizza for lunch. See also my guide to things to do in Mystic with kids.

Day trips around Southern New England -- great ideas for staycations and spring break vacations!
Historic Mystic Seaport

2. Plymouth, MA — Best known for its famous Rock, Plymouth is also a quaint coastal seaside town. In downtown Plymouth you can take in the historic sites with a quick peek at the Plymouth Rock and a tour of the Mayflower II before heading out on the water.

Just don’t leave town without a visit to Plimouth Plantation to learn about the lives of the native Wampanoag nation and early Pilgrim settlers. You can always add an overnight with a stay at the John Carver Inn and let the kids have fun at their indoor pool and waterslide.

Day trips around Southern New England -- great ideas for staycations and spring break vacations!
Exploring Plimoth Plantation

3. Salem, MA — When you hear Salem, the first thing most people think of is the Salem Witch Trials. While there are plenty of museums commemorating those tragic events, there is a lot more to a visit to Salem.

Young kids will enjoy exploring the waterfront, including the National Maritime Site featuring the Friendship of Salem, while older tweens and teens might enjoy an evening ghost tour. The Peabody Essex Museum offers something for the entire family.

Day trips around Southern New England -- great ideas for staycations and spring break vacations!
Friendship of Salem National Maritime Site

4. Old Sturbridge Village, MA — Once you’ve revisited early American history at Plymouth, Salem, and Mystic, it is time to revisit the 1830s at Old Sturbridge Village’s living history museum. Y

ou can spend half a day or more exploring this entire town including homes, a blacksmith shop, farm, and other historic buildings. When we visited we had a chance to take a horse drawn carriage ride, dip candles, and make a tin sconce to hold them.

Day trips around southern New England
Visiting a kitchen in Old Sturbridge Village

5. Lexington, MA — Lollie from A Fortuitous Housewife recommends combining a little history with some outdoor fun on the bikepath between Bedford and Lexington, MA.

You can take a rest break in Lexington and explore the town’s downtown, the Lexington Common, and some of the historic sites in the area to learn about Paul Revere’s famous ride.

6. Boston, MA — There is so much to do in Boston it is hard to squeeze even a fraction of it into just one day, so you may want to plan an overnight. Some of our favorite activities include strolling through the Boston Common and Public Garden, the Boston Museum of Science, the Boston Children’s Museum, and the Museum of Fine Arts.

Of course there is also so much history to explore with the Freedom Trail and Tea Party Museum. If museums and history aren’t your thing, kids will enjoy taking a Duck Boat Tour, exploring the Boston Harbor Islands, take a movie tour, or sampling the cannolis in the North End. See my guide to Boston on a Budget. You can also head up to Somerville to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

Day trips around southern New England
Take a swan boat ride in the Boston Public Garden

7. Cape Cod — You may think of the Cape as just a summer destination but in the off-season, it can be a fun day trip as well. Victoria from Celebrate the Weekend recommends bringing your bikes to enjoy the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

I’d also include a visit to the Chatham Fish Market to watch the seals and catching the sunset at Skaket Beach. If you want to stay overnight, the kids will enjoy the indoor wave pool at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis.

Day trips around Southern New England -- great ideas for staycations and spring break vacations!
Sunset at Skaket Beach

8. Providence, RI –Of course I’m a big fan of Providence and think you should come for a family weekend, but even if you make it a day trip you can visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo, stop in at the Providence Children’s Museum, and sample some of Providence’s best eats (see these great recommendations from Annemarie at Real Food Real Deals.)

New England day trips -- ideas of what to do with the kids on a staycation or spring break vacation in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts
Checking out the giraffes at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence

9. Jamestown, RI — One of my favorite places in RI is Beavertail State Park. Spending a day there flying kites, climbing on the rocks and exploring tidepools is one of our favorite things to do in Rhode Island in the spring.

Nicky from 5 Stars Mommy also recommends visiting Ft. Wetherill, eating at Spinnaker’s Cafe, and, when it is warm enough, paddleboarding at Potters Cove.

Day trips in New England
Playing on the rocks at Beavertail

10. Bristol, Tiverton and Little Compton, RI — If you are looking for a scenic drive, head down to coastal Rhode Island starting with a stop at Colt State Park in Bristol for a beautiful walk, picnic or bike ride. Next, check out the indoor exhibits at the Audubon Society before hiking out to the waterfront.

If you are getting hungry you might want to stop by Evelyn’s for some clam strips, then take the kids on a scavenger hunt at Blithewold Mansion.

If you are up for more exploring, Annie from Stowed Stuff recommends a scenic drive through Tiverton. It is hard to believe there is so much pastoral farmland this close to the water.

Feeding the goats at Sakonnet Farms with Experience Rhode Island's Springtime in RI tour
Stop at Sakonnet Farms in Tiverton to feed the goats and chickens

Need more ideas?


10 awesome day trips in Southern New England to fill in your school break or staycation. Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. #newengland #familytravel

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Publish Date: March 31, 2015

16 thoughts on “10 Awesome Southern New England Day Trips to take with the Kids”

  1. How about surfing day trip in Narragansett? A lot of people are saying that Narragansett offers the best surf in New England so it’s worth checking out. There are also a lot of day trips that you can do in and around Narragansett is surfing is not your thing. 🙂

  2. My hubby and I have wanted to do a New England raodtrip for quite awhile – these look like a whole bunch of fun spots to hit!

    1. Let me know if you do as I would be happy to make some great food recommendations too.

  3. Annie {Stowed Stuff}

    Great list of ideas for day trips! We haven’t done Old Sturbridge Village yet and we need to get on it! We’d also love to see Salem! I love exploring in our own backyard! So much to see.

  4. The only one we haven’t visited is Old Sturbridge. Great list otherwise! I grew up in Plymouth and now we drive between Newport RI and Plymouth every summer week!

  5. Christina – Christina's Cucina

    We actually did a few of these when my son was 3 and I was pregnant with my daughter. Seems a lifetime ago, and I’d love to go back and tour New England anew! Great suggestions!

  6. GREAT LIST! I’ve been wanting to plan a few staycation trips for spring break in a couple of weeks, and this is going to be super helpful!

  7. Honestly you ROCK! I have started to plan for Summer road trips and was looking for 1 to 2 day trips to enjoy with the family.

  8. What a great list! We have been to a more than a few and agree – great places. And love the Jamestown idea – that might be our next trip! We also like Providence (agree – fantastic food) and have spent lovely days in Newport, RI, too.

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